12 Ad Filmmakers Who Made It Big In Bollywood

12 Ad Filmmakers Who Made It Big In Bollywood

14 Jun 18 @ 11:51 AM | By Ravi

There was a myth in Bollywood that Ad filmmakers do not make good Hindi commercial film directors as directing an ad and directing a full length film was considered two different ball games. Initially, it was Satyajit Ray who made a crossover from being an ad film director to a feature film director and was successful at both. Things have changed in the last two decades as Bollywood has witnessed an influx of quite a few ad film directors taking the plunge and making it big as Bollywood film directors. The new breed of young ad directors have made the switch over easily and offered a whole lot of innovative ideas that have added to the success of their films. We look at 10 of the most successful ad film makers who have left a mark in Bollywood with their film direction.

  • Shyam Benegal - Well Done Abba (2009)

    The veteran film director started his career in 1959 at Lintas, Mumbai as a copywriter and steadily rose to the stature of creative head. He got the opportunity to directed more than 900 documentaries and ad commercials before he moved on to making Hindi feature films. He directed his first Hindi film ‘Ankur’ in 1974 which had Shabana Azmi and Anant Nag playing the main leads. Branded as a director of parallel cinema, he set the tone for meaningful films in the 70’s and 80’s. So far, he has directed 25 films of which most of them have been landmark films of Indian cinema which include – ‘Nishant’, ‘Bhumika’, ‘Manthan’, ‘Mandi’, ‘Junoon’, ‘Kalyug’, ‘Trikaal’, ‘Sardari Begum’, ‘The Making of the Mahatma’, ‘Zubeidaa’, ‘Welcome To Sajjanpur’ and the very latest ‘Well Done Abba’. He has been the recipient of almost all of Hindi cinema’s popular awards including the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 2005.

    Well Done Abba - 2009
    Well Done Abba - 2009
  • Mukul S. Anand - Khuda Gawah (1992)

    Born in 1951, Mukul Anand shot to fame as an ad film director by making ad’s for Pepsi which first time saw Hindi film actors appearing in commercials. Technically brilliant, he moved on by directing his first Hindi film ‘Kanoon Kya Karega’ in 1984 which was made on a shoestring budget and did decent business. From there on he went on to direct big banner films like ‘Sultanat’, ‘Main Balwaan’, ‘Insaaf’, ‘Mahasangram’ and the biggies with Amitabh Bachchan which were ‘Agneepath’, ‘Hum’ and ‘Khuda Gawah’. He continued directing movies as well as ads even after making it big in Bollywood but a heart attack in 1997 put an end to his life. Watch a song from his fantasy costume drama ‘Khuda Gawah’ with Amitabh Bachchan and Sridevi in the lead which released in 1992 and helped him bag that year’s Filmfare Trophy for best director.

    Khuda Gawah - 1992
    Khuda Gawah - 1992
  • Pradeep Sarkar - Parineeta (2005)

    Pradeep Sarkar was the creative head of Contract Advertising before joining Vidhu Vinod Chopra productions as an assistant director. He marked his debut as director with ‘Parineeta’ in 2005 which was a success. He later went on to direct ‘Laaga Chunari Mein Daag’ (2007), ‘Lafangey Parindey’ (2010) and ‘Mardaani’ (2014).

    Parineeta - 2005
    Parineeta - 2005
  • Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra - Rang De Basanti (2006)

    Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra started his career as a national level swimmer who almost made it to the Asian Games in 1982 at Delhi. Born in 1963, he took to advertising in 1986 and directed a score of television commercials for Coke, Pepsi, Toyota, American Express and BPL. Before graduating to films he directed a few music videos with Amitabh Bachchan in ‘Aby Baby’. Impressed by his skills ABCL offered him to direct ‘Aks’ in 2001 which featured Amitabh Bachchan, Manoj Bajpai and Raveena Tandon in the leads. The film was ahead of its times which was a moderate success. He bounced back with ‘Rang De Basanti’ in 2006 which portrayed a group of college youth’s fight against the system. The film starred Aamir Khan, Siddharth, Sharman Joshi, Kunal Kapoor, Alice Patten, Madhavan and Soha Ali Khan. Since then he has directed ‘Delhi 6’ (2009) and the highly acclaimed biopic ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ which got him his second Filmfare award for best director.

    Rang De Basanti - 2006
    Rang De Basanti - 2006
  • Rajkumar Hirani - PK (2014)

    Best known for films like ‘Munna Bhai MBBS’ (2003), ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’ (2006), ‘3 Idiots’ (2009) and ‘PK’ (2014), Rajkumar Hirani is one of the most popular directors in Bollywood, currently with a cent percent success rate. Yet to taste failure, he too started his career in an advertising agency as an actor and copy writer before shifting to O&M where he got to work for brands like Fevicol, and Kinetic Luna ad campaigns. He moved on from advertising to assist Vidhu Vinod Chopra with whom he worked for sometime as an editor as well as assistant director before making his debut as a director with ‘Munnabhai MBBS’ in 2003. After Munnabhai’s success he made three films all of which were blockbusters.

    PK - 2014
    PK - 2014
  • R. Balki - Cheeni Kum (2007)

    R. Balakrishnan, commonly known as R. Balki started his career with Mudra at an early age after completing his MCA. He worked as creative director on campaigns like Surf Excel, Tata Tea, Idea Cellular and others. He continues to head the Lowe Lintas (India) advertising agency besides directing films. He made his Bollywood directorial debut with ‘Cheeni Kum’ (2007) and followed it up with ‘Paa’ (2009) and the recent ‘Shamitabh’ (2015). Currently he is making ‘Ki & Ka’ with Kareena Kapoor Khan and Arjun Kapoor in the lead. Watch his debut film ‘Cheeni Kum’.

    Cheeni Kum - 2007
    Cheeni Kum - 2007
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  • Dibakar Banerjee - Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006)

    Dibakar Banerjee started his advertising career as a copywriter with Shems Combit. He later joined TBWA Anthem and then shifted to Contract Advertising at Delhi. His association with director Pradeep Sarkar made him work on many ad campaigns before taking the plunge in Bollywood. He made his directorial debut with ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla’ in 2006 which was penned by his colleague screenwriter Jaideep Sahni. The success of ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla’ was followed ‘Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!’ (2008), ‘Love Sex Aur Dhokha’ (2010), ‘Shanghai’ (2012), ‘Bombay Talkies’ (2013) and ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!’ (2015).

    Khosla Ka Ghosla - 2006
    Khosla Ka Ghosla - 2006
  • Shoojit Sircar - Vicky Donor (2012)

    Shoojit Sircar joined Rising Sun Films where he got the opportunity to shoot TV commercials for brands like Saffola, 2G, Apsara Pencils, Fair & Lovely, Maruti WagonR, Cadbury, etc. He made his directorial debut in 2005 with ‘Yahaan’ which starred Jimmy Shergill and Minissha Lamba, a love story set against the Kashmir Valley. He followed this up by making Vicky Donor (2012), Madras Cafe (2013) and Piku (2015). Watch the much acclaimed ‘Vicky Donor’.

    Vicky Donor - 2012
    Vicky Donor - 2012
  • Nitesh Tiwari - Bhoothnath Returns (2014)

    Another ad-man who made his directorial debut by co-directing the 2011 film ‘Chillar Party’. He gained prominence with ‘Bhoothnath Returns’ which was the sequel to ‘Bhoothnath’ which released in 2008. Nitesh is currently writing Aamir Khan’s ‘Dangal’.

    Bhoothnath Returns - 2014
    Bhoothnath Returns - 2014
  • Vinil Mathew - Hasee Toh Phasee (2014)

    Vinil started his ad career in 2000. Two years later he founded his own ad company, Nomad Films. He worked on more than 250 ad-campaigns like Reliance, Vodafone, Airtel and the Times Of India's Aman Ki Asha, which received a lot of appreciation. He came in contact with Karan Johar during a coffee ad-campaign where he got to narrate the script of his first film Hasee Toh Phasee. And the rest was history as the film did well at the box-office.

    Hasee Toh Phasee - 2014
    Hasee Toh Phasee - 2014
  • Amit Sharma - Tevar (2015)

    Amit Sharma too started his career as an ad-man and later graduated to directing films. His first film as director was ‘Tevar’ which released in January 2015 and starred Arjun Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha and Manoj Bajpai. The film did average business.

    Tevar - 2015
    Tevar - 2015
  • Tanushree Chatterjee Basu - Purani Jeans (2014)

    Tanushree has directed over 150 ad-commercials and a couple of music videos & a short film. Her ad-campaigns include brands like Pepsi, Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive, Nestle, Samsung, Kelloggs, Coca-Cola, etc. She made her Bollywood directorial debut with ‘Purani Jeans’ which released in 2014.

    Purani Jeans - 2014
    Purani Jeans - 2014